Among Scotland's most consistently innovative electronic artists, Perth duo Clouds - Calum MacLeod and Liam Robertson - released their third album, The Parallel, at the beginning of the year. The record spans an array of styles and tempos, rich with atmosphere and sophisticated tonalities, pinned together with blistering drum work.
The Parallel was originally conceived as a collaboration with the Berlin based technical outerwear brand Acronym and the SKY ANY COLOUR online group exhibition. The record will see a wider, more traditional release on a new label set up by the duo, which bears the same name as the album.
Since releasing on Speedy J’s Electric Deluxe imprint in 2016, the Scottish duo’s DJ sets have seen the pair endeavour to strip out all but their own, mostly new and unreleased, productions, leading to a heightened appreciation of the various directions in which they can drive their work back in the studio.
With this, their vein of techno has seen a steady yet explorative development. Hardcore noise swirling over breakneck percussion evolves and envelopes, without overreaching, never conceding to gimmickry. Ecstasy binds itself together with impending dread, like being caught in the atmosphere while the planet below you implodes. Faint cries from past eras are carefully tabbed and then hurled into a post-industrial hell-future, a future that they wield perfectly, in which the listener is reluctant to leave yet hesitant to stay. This is where Clouds place you. A feeling of euphoria repeating, reducing, and then degrading upon blown out sub frequencies that distort and twist as if in a dream, forming whole new worlds of texture and pressure, colour and bliss. Their trance inducing hooks borrow the urgencies and rhythms of early hardcore and jungle, alongside the manic paradoxes of abhorrent, rinsed out, joyful gabber, or the obnoxious glee of hardstyle, achieving a poetry seemingly at odds with itself, but without sounding crude. This isn’t an exercise in looking backwards, though, there is a skill to which their influences are employed. By not drawing purely upon aesthetic, stylistic conventions, utilized all too often amongst their peers, but by drawing on more subtle, substantial elements, Clouds are able to create an innovative, nuanced, singular experience.